Today is day three of our second heat wave of the year. We had four days over 90 degrees just three weeks ago and now another four will be added. And not even an afternoon thunderstorm to quench the heat driven thirst by all, especially our plants. On an "average" year of late we have 13 days over the year of 90 degrees plus days. Last year we hit 25. We'll have 8 by this week's end. So yes indeed we need to watch out for our friends and neighbors, and our pets.
So who is watching over us? Yes we are actually under surveillance every day. In fact we are being surveilled 24/7. No, I'm not talking about that noisy neighbor we have all had at one time or another. There are others who are far more observant of everything we do. By day and by night.
Let's start with the ones you know. It's our household pets. You should already know your dog or cat pretty much knows your schedule better then you do. Have you ever noticed, if you have an aquarium, that the fish all crowd towards the front of the tank as you enter the room. Hey, even your fish know your schedule probably better than you do. Yes you are being surveilled day and night right inside your own home.
Now lets throw open the door and step out into your front or back yard. Have you felt the eyes and ears swooping down towards you yet. So now it is your other neighbors tuning into your every move. Not one of them has ever seen a clock or watch, yet know YOUR schedule, again better than you do. Yes they do. They study your every move and as you come outside or go back in. They are literally surveying your every move. Feel those eyes yet?
So who is watching us outside? Everything. But here are some I have come to know that pretty much all of the time are watching me. Blue jays, crows and ravens really really pay attention to us from my own observations. Years ago when I still worked for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department as a wildlife biologist one task each October was to operate the moose check station at the Region 3 office in Durham. Part of that checking process is to remove a tooth for aging the moose and if it is a female, to collect part of the reproductive tract. I would always end up with a handful of "scraps". I made it a habit to take the handful of material outside and place it on the end of an upturned container resting out there. I would stand for a minute trying to see if anything was around, like a crow.. Nope. Almost never. But by the time I got back inside the building and looked out the window a crow or two would be taking my offerings.
And blue jays. Take any winter day and step outside and listen. Not a blue jay to be seen or heard. But put some food out on a platform for the birds and step back inside. Wala! Poof. Out of nowhere blue jays appear. First the scout who just can't keep his mouth shut about his findings. Boom you have a backyard full of jays. Then along comes the rest of the bird community.
And when do the rest of your neighbors show up. Yes mostly a night when you are safely inside. Safe for them I'm talking, not you. Deer, bear, raccoons, opossums and skunks turn up when you tune out. Yes they do. And it is not always at night.
When Fish and Game started growing the bear population in the 80's we kicked off a whole "Somethings Bruin in NH" campaign. We had worked with UNH to map bear habitat across the state and soon learned we had lots more place bears could live and started growing the population from around a thousand in the mid 80's to the number we now have over 5,000 bears. The campaign was designed to teach folks how to live with bears. Especially more bears all across the state. So we came up with some brochures. One of them talked about just bringing your bird feeder in at night. After all, that's when bears are usually active. Before the ink had dried on those biologist approved brochures the bears learned to just start coming at 3pm instead of 8pm when the bird feeders had been taken in. Yes I was duped by the bears. Again. Yes they too are watching us. All the time. Haven't seen a bear lately? It is their choice not yours.
So indeed we do have lots of things "watching over" us. At least that's the way I intend to think of it.